It’s election season! For Melaka now, at least. And I know we all know the basics of going out voting. But now that we’re in a pandemic, the SOPs are a little bit different and a little more strict than usual to minimise the chances of any of us getting sick.
We all saw how it went down during the Sabah elections. Now with the upcoming one in Melaka, new SOPs have been put forth as new testing grounds to see if they’re safe to use for future elections.
Melaka’s election will happen on 20 November 2020. Last Tuesday, Melaka opened its polls for early voting for police officers and military personnel. But the actual voting for us normal people falls this Saturday. So to keep you safe and out of harm’s way, here are some steps you need to take before you arrive at your designated voting spots.
There are four time slots that voters can check on the mySPR Semak application or the EC portal. To prevent crowding at the voting centres, the time slots are from:
- 8am to 10am
- 10am to 12pm
- 2pm to 2pm
- 2pm to 4.20pm
SOPs When Voting
To ensure the voting process runs smoothly and on time with minimal hiccups, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Voters must remain at a three-metre distance from each other while lining up for their turn.
2. Voters must check their temperature at the entrance and record their attendance by scanning their MySejahtera before entering the facility.
3. Voters must double mask during the duration of their stay at the facility.
4. Hand sanitisers are available at every stop station at the polling centre, and voters are encouraged to sanitise their hands at every booth they visit — the entrance, the polling stream and in front of the poll clerk.
For Voters Who Are Sick or With COVID-19 Symptoms
Just because you are unwell, doesn’t mean you can’t vote. Instead of voting online, you are given the chance to do it in person — but with some cautionary steps, of course.
1. Voters who are unwell (cough and runny noses) and with a body temperature of above 37.5 degrees celsius will be isolated from the other voters (though it is unclear whether you’ll get your own separate booth or not).
2. At the ballot booth, voters with a high temperature will be asked to wear disposable gloves before getting to the polling station with their ballot papers.
3. A disposable brush will be used to apply the indelible ink on the fingers of voters who are unwell.
4. Officers involved in handling individuals with symptoms must adhere to set procedures and wear personal protective clothing (PPE), as well as an apron, face shield and gloves, while handling the symptomatic individuals.
5. Cleaning and sanitation of polling booths must be done every time a voter with symptoms has finished marking their ballot papers (Okay, so this answers our question of whether or not you’ll get your own booth. The answer is no).
6. After voting, the voters will be managed with the help of a health officer for examination and further action.
Now that we’ve gotten the SOPs out of the way, y’all remember your responsibilities as voters, right? I know it’s been a while, but don’t tell me you forgot?
Let Us Jog Your Memory
If you’re a new voter or need a reminder on what you should do before, during and after voting, let us help you out:
1. Make Sure You’re Registered! It’s Not Too Late.
For returning voters, you can check your status at MySPR’s website. If you’re a first time voter and unfamiliar with how you can register, SPR has made it easy for you with three simple steps:
1. You will have to apply for an account through the MySPR Daftar portal and fill in your details as required.
2. You’ll get an email with a TAC number to activate your profile.
3. Fill in a form they’ll send you through your email and you’re done!
It’s not too late to sign up — The General Election for other states is happening in 2023, you’ll have plenty of time!
2. Know The Area You’re Supposed To Vote In
You don’t want to be the person who’s confused as to where you’re supposed to be. Make sure you double-check your area before you head off to vote. Because contrary to what you may think, especially if you’re a first-time voter, there are multiple places for people to place their votes, you don’t go to just one place.
You can check your names and your voting station at spr.gov.my or for those without internet connectivity, you can also check via SMS by typing in “SPR SEMAK <IC NUMBER without dash>” to 15888. You will be charged 20 sen for this service.
3. Leave an X, Nothing Else
Last time, if your ballot paper had any other markings besides the X next to your chosen party, your vote was deemed to be invalid. However, as time progressed, and due to large amounts of rejected votes back in Cameron Highlands’ 2013 election, they found 39 ways that you can mark your ballot paper and still make it count.
If you’re unsure what kinds of markings are permissible or otherwise, here are some examples to help you out.
4. You Are Not Allowed To Loiter After Voting
You should immediately head home after you vote. Loitering around the voting booths or voting area will cause you to be RM5,000 poorer or face jail time up to a year. Besides, do you really want to hang around these places after you’re done voting?
Come on guys, we’re still in a pandemic, and there’s going to be a lot of people around. It’s a lot safer (for you and others) if you just went home.
5. Do Not Wear Your Party’s Logo When You Vote
Even if you’re proud of the party you chose, you aren’t allowed to parade in it while you’re at the voting centre. Wearing a shirt of your political party will cost you RM5,000 or a year in jail. Why don’t you choose something else to wear?
At least wearing an “I heart JB” shirt won’t cost you anything. Maybe just your dignity while the people waiting in line with you debate in their heads whether the JB you meant is Justin Bieber or Johor Bahru. Because let’s face it, with the mask on, no one can tell.
6. Do Not Leave The Ballot Box With An Extra Ballot Paper In Hand
If you have extra paper, leave it at the booth and don’t bring it with you. It doesn’t matter if it’s empty or if it’s an extra ballot paper, you should not bring it out of the booth. This is to ensure that there are no extra papers that are sold to people to make them vote for a certain party.
To make sure that the election is fair, each person only gets one chance in voting for their parties. On the off chance that they get an extra ballot paper, they’re required to give it back or (let me stress this again) leave it at the booth.
7. Don’t Accept Food From Random Strangers Before or After Voting Period.
It’s going to be difficult for you, we get it. Refuse food? As a Malaysian, this is blasphemous! But it’s better than going to jail. Accepting food from anyone during this voting period would be considered as you accepting bribery or payment from a political party. You could be penalised RM5,000 for this or face jail time of up to two years.
Buy your own food. And yes, I know how this sounds. Free food is always good food. But not in this case, my friend. No food is worth going behind bars for.
Are You Ready For The Future?
It’s VERY important for everyone over the age of 18 to vote. Don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter. It does! The future of the country you’re growing up in is in your hands. The vote is for you, by you!
Also, y’all stay safe out there while you’re out voting! Remember, it doesn’t matter who you vote for, as long as your vote and you have a platform for your voice to be heard. In the meantime, here’s something to curb your boredom while you stand in line for your turn: